Today the state attorney general’s office confirmed a report published this morning in The Colorado Independent that Attorney General John Suthers met with proponents of Amendment 54 — the “clean government” constitutional amendment passed as a ballot initiative last November — and that he agrees with them that the initiative does not unduly infringe upon expression.
Deputy Attorney General Geoffrey Blue writes:
We did meet with the proponents and discussed the measure. We agree with them that it is constitutionally defensible: that whatever limits it puts on expression are not unconstitutional under current doctrine.
Blue added specifically that the attorney general’s office agreed that critics of the amendment were wrong to think that — due to “sloppy” wording and overreaching design — it would prohibit family members of people with ties to organizations with sole-source government work contracts from donating as they wish to political campaigns.
We do believe that Amendment 54 does not infringe upon the rights of family members to make contributions so long as they are not acting as a conduit for a person holding a no-bid contact.
Blue’s comments, however, raise the same question that irks many of Amendment 54’s critics: How will the courts determine the intent of family campaign donors? That is, how will the courts decide who is acting as a pay-to-play conduit and who is simply contributing to a political campaign?
Absent, for now, the technology to peek into people’s brains, any legal guidelines will be vague and open to abuse. And in lieu of clear guidelines, people will certainly feel hesitant to donate money if there’s any chance they or their relatives might be accused of corruption in the courts and, as a result, bring havoc on organizations doing contract work for the government.
Two lawsuits arguing against the constitutionality of Amendment 54 are currently under way.